“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Stowe tells a story of the time when slavery was accepted and supported. It can be considered a historical account of events that took place in the South.
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The significance of the book goes beyond mere recollection of events, as it demonstrates the qualities of people. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” represents a dark time in human history and gives factual evidence of immoral and dehumanizing actions of people towards other human beings, in contrast with strong faith and belief in goodness by those undeservingly abused.
The most shocking truth about slavery is that it was representation of the time and large amounts of people. The social beliefs have allowed people’s morals to shift as far as de-humanizing other people. The social beliefs were such that African people were thought inferior to the “white man” and this allowed degrading behavior and rights violations.
A book that contains the facts that Harriet Stowe had to collect shed some light at the hardship of writing and recounting the incidents that took place. It is said that “the book is a very inadequate representation of slavery; and it is so, necessarily, for this reason,–that slavery, in some of its workings, is too dreadful for the purposes of art” (Stowe The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin 5). This is an exact description of the times that would allow for the whole nation to abuse so many people.
Presently, society has outlawed slavery in most countries of the world but it has not disappeared completely. It is a sad truth that slavery and human trafficking continues in the modern era and there is little that can and is being done to stop it. The accounts that Harriet Stowe gives are full of details that illustrate the horrible conditions African people had to endure. She also mentions that there were individuals who opposed slavery and were very kind and caring towards their servants.
Nonetheless, the kindness and leniency towards people who were forced to serve, does not negate the fact that they were not free and had to experience outcasting among other people. It is unbelievable that great nations like Britain and its colonies, as well as United Stated of America were the ones involved in legal sale and ownership of people. The 200 hundred years that were openly dominated by slavery, create a great dent in human justice and morality.
Not only was slavery a physical abuse of whole peoples, the morality of a person was greatly degraded and mixed with dirt. The society has allowed for such acts to be committed and this led to the ruling of evil. Kindness took on a different form that manifested itself through beneficial and less degrading attitude towards Africans.
The people seemed to have forgotten that they are a part of nature and everyone who has life on earth is equal. But those who were and are able to demoralize another person become separate from nature and kindness, raising themselves above the system (Warnock-Carman 30).
The need to acquire ruling over other people is inherent to humans while kindness, morality and justice exist for the sole purpose of rooting out evil, greed and anger towards other people. Constitutions and democracies make it their goal to abolish all violations of human rights but the process is tainted with disturbances of wars, government’s tyranny and human rights violations. Morality of a civilized human went as far as to see signs of necessity of slavery in religious texts and ancient philosophical writings.
The indifferent nature of great amounts of people does not see the damage that is done to the psyche of a person who is being owned and abused. The psychological strain that not only another individual but a whole society creates, leads to depression, lowered self-worth and misplaced personality. It takes a strong person to rebel against mistreatment and still, it is hard to fight against a whole population of abusers.
One of the most significant moments of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is when Tom is dying but is still able to forgive the people that have abused him. George says: “What a thing it is to be a Christian!” (Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin 272) and this summarizes the faith and moral strength that Tom has had throughout his whole life.
Even though other men and women have robbed Tom of his dignity and freedom, they were not able to break his spirit. There were several times when this almost happened but in the end, faith in God and existence of final and prevalent justice proved to be the strongest point of human character. Uncle Tom is a representation of the strong will of many people who had to suffer and live through abuse of the white race.
The character qualities described in Harrier Stowe’s book are very much attributable to the movement against slavery, discrimination and modern day hardships that people suffer. The theme transferred over to the example of African-American rebellion in the United States, which defines the fight of people who have had enough of moral and physical degrading.
The American nation and the world were shown that people who were thought of as inferior and “inhuman” can be superior in the qualities of kindness and honor. The non-violent protests that took place in the last century are an example of that. Martin Luther King and his supporters are the definition of non-violent action in the fight for human rights.
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“I have lived amid threats, intimidation, physical violence, and even death, and yet I have never run from the situation. I have urged my people at all times to stand up against segregation, and even disobey the segregation laws in order to arouse and awaken the conscience of our nation” (King 1).
This is a recurring theme that it still true today. The fact that African people, who were deprived of their freedom for so long, had the ability to endure and fight for their rights deserves great respect and praise. But the formal abolishment of slavery in United States and most world countries is a small step comparing to the issues that still take place. The will power of African-Americans has proven that people are strongest when they fight for their rights and natural freedom.
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” can be thought of as a historical document that is a lesson to the present and future generations. It is an illustration of the moral spirit, belief in highest morals but also, is a reminder that sometimes people lose their way and commit acts that are evil and unacceptable. Humanity has had many examples of the horrible actions done by one human being to another but an unfortunate fact is that it keeps being repeated.
King , Martin. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Los Angeles, United States: University of California Press, 2005. Print.
Stowe, Harriet. The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. New York, United States: gJ. P. Jewett & Company, 1853. Print.
—. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Lepzig, Germany: B. Tauchnitz, 1852. Print.
Warnock-Carman, Krista. Slavery: Thematic Unit. Westminster, United States: Teacher Created Resources, 2000. Print.